Secession Era Editorials Project
The Non-Intervention Principle.
Springfield, Illinois, Illinois State Register [Democratic]
(31 January 1854)
We find among the professed friends of the compromise a few who repudiate
it in connection with the Nebraska bill now pending in the United States
All persons found in this category of opposition may be pointedly put down
as incincere in their compromise professions.
They may resort to sublimated logic, to subterfuges and evasions, but they
cannot possibly escape from this plain proposition, viz: that the compromise of
1850 meant something, and that if it meant anything if it was it
not mere child's play - if it was not a mere theory without any design of
fulfillment, it certainly was planned and agreed to for the purpose of putting
an end to any further effort on the part of congress to meddle with the domestic
institutions of the territories, or of territories seeking admission as states,
or districts of country asking to be organized into territories.
We lay it down as a proposition which cannot be escaped from, that no man
can rank himself with the compromise friends of 1850 without subscribing fully
to the principles embraced in the Douglas Nebraska bill.
It is an embodiment of the spirit, meaning and object of that compromise,
and no sophistry can make the masses of the country think differently.
This billt gives the tender-footed subscribers to
that compromise an opportunity to show their hands, or, in other words, it
compels them to come out of their holes.
We shall now see whether they have been honest.
We shall now see whether they have supported it as an abstraction or a
reality, a mere theory or a vital practical measure of safety, tranquillity and
Sift the Douglas bill as you will, twist it into any form your ingenuity
may suggest, and you can find nothing in it save the true meaning and intent of
the compromise of '50, and every man who opposes the bill on grounds connected
with the subject of slavery must be put down as an enemy of that
If the compromise amounts to anything it certainly requires that the new
territories be left free to adopt or reject slavery the same as if they were
Every state has a right to adopt slavery, and the territories, according to
the compromise, should have the same right.
If this is denied then nothing has been accomplished.
It will be admitted by all that it was understood by the whole nation that
the slavery question was put to rest by those measures.
It was understood that new territories were to be admitted on the same
footing with Utah and New
Mexico -- that is, with the right to adopt or reject slavery, as they
By this course, slavery could not again be brought into the halls of
The subject, so far as that arena is concerned, would have been put to
rest, the very end which the country desired.
The views of the masses of our people, on this subject, are well known.
No man will deny that Gen. Pierce
was elected with a full knowledge, on the part of the voters, that he was for
the compromise, and elected, too, by a majority of twenty-seven states to
Was not this decisive enough?
Did not the convention which nominated him declare that they were for the
principles embraced in this Nebraska law, and did he not accept the nomination
with a pledge to sustain that principle?
If the people had been opposed to the principle would they not have voted
We hold that his election was a decision in favor of the principle, and,
therefore, we infer that the masses are in favor of the Nebraska bill, and that
the public sentiment will be outraged if it should be voted down.
- The people are right on this subject, and they will hold their
representatives responsible for any departure from what may be regarded as their
plainly recorded behests.
In this view of it our congressional representatives have nothing to fear in
boldly discharging their duty.
The abolitionists and freesoilers will denounce
them, of course, for when this Nebraska bill shall have become a law they will
be deprived of their principle material for the manufacture of mischievous and
dangerous agitation; and when this occurs the faction will fall.
When their projects, discussions, and schemes can be driven out of congress
they will lose all hope of dissolving the Union, and will measurably abandon
Now is the time to come up to the work, and we hope every true friend of the
compromise measures, and every true lover of the Union, will come forward in
support of the Nebraska bill.
Now is the time to give practical effect to the leading principles which
triumphed in the election of Pierce.
We hope the democratic press of our state will continue to urge the passage
of the law, and even if it should fail they will have the satisfaction of
knowing that they were found battling on the side of their country, and
principles of territorial and state rights, calculated to make our Union
The senseless cry that the friends of this bill are in favor of slavery
will impose upon no one.
The advocacy of it commits no one in favor of slavery.
It simply leaves the people of Nebraska to decide
the question for themselves.
If we were there we would vote against slavery, and it will be found that
if the territory is organized under this bill nine-tenths of the people will
vote against the introduction of the institution.
It was said that slavery would be introduced to Utah, New Mexico and California, but it was not done.
The people of those territories decided against it, and so will the people
But this has nothing to do with the question we have been considering, and
those who try to bring it in will find that the people understand the true value
to be given to it.
It is a question of state and territorial rights, of domestic tranquillity,
national safety, and the integrity of the Union.
In this view we believe every democrat of Illinois will "put himself on the record" in favor of the
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